"The Adam MacKenzie Story"
Original air date Mar 27, 1963
Directed by Virgil W. Vogel
Written by Norman Jolley
John McIntire as Chris Hale
Frank McGrath as Charlie Wooster
Terry Wilson as Bill Hawks
Scott (Denny) Miller as Duke Shannon
Michael Ansara as Adam MacKenzie
Peter Brown as Ben O'Brien
Jose De Vega as "Wild Horse" Adams
William Mims as Esteban Perez
Lois Roberts as Juana Perez
Danny Bravo as Felipe Perez
Nora Marlowe as Ma Sikes
Penny Santon as Carlotta Perez
Dennis McCarthy as Branford
Alex Montoya as Carlos
This is a story of prejudice and superstition. The opening shows a Mexican family fleeing from their little village because the villagers believe their daughter is a witch. When their wagon breaks down, they seek help from the wagon train. Meanwhile, in Medicine Lance, the next supply stop for the Hale wagon train, a doctor and his two apprentices (one Irish, the other Navaho) are concerned about a possible diphtheria epidemic.
We first see the doctor dealing with the prejudice of Ma Sikes about being worked on by an apprentice. So the doctor tricks her into having Ben take out a splinter while her head is turned. They soon have to turn their thoughts to the more serious matter of the potential for the spread of diphtheria by the approaching wagon train. They plan to ride out and examine everyone on the train.
By the time the medical staff gets out to the train, the Perez family is a part of it. Juana's brother Felipe is mocking her about being a witch. During the examination, one bigot refuses to be examined by Henry because he's an Indian. MacKenzie steps in and does the examination. He also makes the fiery Ben (Peter), who has come to the defense of his friend, apologize for his harsh words. However, MacKenzie gets in his own dig as he announces to everyone else that if they don't want to be examined by an Indian, they'd better have Ben examine them as his grandmother was a Zuni Indian.
Meanwhile, Felipe continues to give Juana a bad time. She runs off, twisting her ankle as she runs. Shortly thereafter, a bobcat comes into camp and attacks Felipe (a very uncharacteristic thing for a bobcat to do). The bobcat was limping. When Juana comes back into camp, she is limping from her twisted ankle. They immediately assume she and the cat are one and the same and that Juana is indeed a witch.
The examination of everyone else on the train is completed. Only the Perez family is left to check. They see that Felipe is injured but his father won't let them help because a doctor will be no good against a witch's curse. Ben and Henry find Rosa and examine her. They assure her they know she isn't a witch. Henry tells her about the superstitions of his own Navaho tribe.
Juana is sent with Charlie to stay with Ma Sikes in Medicine Lance. The medical men decide to stay camped near the Perez wagon in the hopes Felipe's father will let them help.
MacKenzie and Ben save Felipe but Juana's father still isn't convinced that she's not a witch. And Juana has run back to the train to rejoin her family for some bizarre reason. Her father sees her. So the father goes out hunting with a ceremonial bow. He shoots the bobcat which had a leg broken from an encounter with a trap. When Juana shows him she has no wound where the bobcat was shot, he's finally convinced she's not a witch.
There's a loving family reunion. The doctors have a discussion about the nature of superstition. And we get to see Peter's characteristic hat worn close over the eyes.
NiteOwl Review: This was the weakest of the Wagon Train episodes in which Peter guested. Both "the Geneva Balfour Story" and "Those Who Stay Behind" were much stronger, perhaps because they involved the regular cast much more than this episode did. A story of the defeat of superstition needs something more compelling that the straw man they set up in this case. Peter did a good job with the Irish accent. He again went Irish in an episode of Fantasy Island.
Cast Notes: This episode was filmed during the awkward season after Robert Horton left and before Robert Fuller came aboard. Denny Miller (who was forced by the producers to use the name Scott Miller for his run on Wagon Train) was a likable actor who wasn't given many good storylines on this series. He had one brief scene in this episode. Michael Ansara was, of course, best known for his stint in Broken Arrow (1956-1958). He also costarred in Law of the Plainsman (1959) and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1980).
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